Monday, June 29, 2009

Fishers Freedom Festival Parade

Thanks to all who worked on the float, it seemed like people really enjoyed it, they liked the seeds, and some people were even singing along with the praise songs! Thanks to everyone who helped out, I hope to have some pics up by the end of the week.

Although, since we sing those songs Sunday morning at NewSong, and one we even sang that morning, they are completely stuck in my head. No matter what I do, all I can hear in the back of my mind is "Oh Oh O-oh, Oh Oh O-oh"...

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Today we set up a good chunk of the float for the Fishers Freedom Festival Parade. Thanks to everyone who helped out, and I hope to see you tomorrow during the parade.

But as we were finishing up Liz and I were talking about an article she was reading. It was about a book saying how we don't really need all we think we do, a book idea that was pitched over 20 years ago, but the author was told no one would buy a book about buying less or living smaller (it was the 80's).

But really, ow much do we need? The number one suggestion in the article to live simply, watch less TV. After all, every seven minutes you have a set of commercials explaining how much you need their product. I experienced it last night. I was watching TV and suddenly got hungry, no idea why, until I realized I had just seen about five ads for fast food. I had eaten only an hour before!

So start thinking about it. We're going to be talking about it at FUMC ( during our "In God We Trust" series the first three weeks of July. How much do you really need?

Matthew 6:25 ~ “So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear." (LB, spoken by Jesus)


Friday, June 26, 2009

The Good Ol' Days

This morning I was thinking about all the things we do simply because we don't want to learn a new/better way. Call it "old dog new tricks" or simply being lazy, but we as a society don't like to learn new things or change what we're doing to be better. A few general examples would be our QWERTY keyboard (the way we type was intentionally used to slow fingers down to stop typewriter keys from sticking, but we still use it) or the metric system (America finally joined the rest of the world by officially using metric in 1993, but we don't actually use it, it's too much to learn, even though it's easier and people still don't know the system we have now, Lorie still asks me how many ounces are in a pound...)

So I started thinking about the ministry I'm involved in. This summer marks 10 years of full-time ministry for me. What if I still did things the way I did a decade ago...

~if I wanted to reach everyone in the youth group, it meant calling and leaving a message at each house or mailing a letter. No cell phones, no text messaging and only nerds had email (like me...)
~to mail something, like a newsletter, if I wanted art I would have to photocopy the art from a book, cut it out, tape it to the letter I was making, and photocopy it again. Programs like publisher were expensive and since my top of the line computer had a hard drive of 3 (yes 3!) gig, saving pictures was not an option (and that was my home computer, my church computer way worse).
~to do anything with video it required careful planning and recording everything on a camera in order or painstakingly plugging two VCR's in together and play/pause/record/pause/play/stop. But seeing how no one could afford a projector, the only way to watch a video was for me to carry a TV and VCR downstairs to the youth room. It happened seldom.
~without projectors, Sunday morning worship was the almighty overhead, black letters on a shining white backdrop. And after singing a verse a giant black hand would swoop in from the side, all the lyrics would blur to the right and new ones would appear then need to be adjusted, centered, flipped over and/or turned right side up. For every verse of every song for every service...
~recording a service was done on tape. If someone wanted a copy, it meant plugging two tape recorders into each other and waiting through the entire sermon again (unless you had an awesome tape duplicator like my college which could do a tape in 1/4th the time!)
~all pictures of youth events were done on film. You could get digital copies made so you could print more than one for your group, but that would require finishing the roll and waiting the four days for it to go out of town and come back on a Kodak CD.
~no video illustrations, no youtube.
~there were no online or offline Bible programs. All lessons, sermons, etc. were done with the lesson book, a Strong's Concordance and pure Bible knowledge.

And that's just off the top of my head in a little under a decade. And I know what the purists, those that don't like change, are going to say, none of this changes the gospel message. And that's true. But it's changed how I present the gospel. It's changed how I get that message to people. It hurts to think of all the time I "wasted" (there was no other way) when I could have been working more on my sermon or with students. Even this blog, wouldn't have happened a decade ago. Instead of spending most of my time preparing for a Sunday morning photocopying overheads, putting them in order, then having half my sermon prep be cross-referencing or trying to find that verse I know is in Romans somewhere, I can spend more time on the content and presenting that message.

Don't be an old dog. I just had to pause a second ago because Julie came in with a newsletter question, trying to get a photo where it should be for our church newsletter "Rooted". Man, that would have never happened a decade ago...


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

But What Happened To Them?

If you've ever read the Bible, you've probably noticed that it's not always heavy on the details. Ancient Jewish writing is different from today's style. Back then you didn't have printing presses and much of what is written was actually passed on verbally, so you didn't focus on all the details like we do today. You tell only the pieces that are necessary for the story or point.

But I like the details. And I really like it when I know more to the story. Like in what I was reading today. Ezekiel 37:1-14, it's a story where God tells Ezekiel to prophecy to a bone yard and as he prophecies the bones come together, flesh and skin cover them and they become people. Then God tells Ezekiel to prophecy to the wind to breathe life into them and it does. Then God explains that these people are like the people of Israel, they feel dead and in pieces, but God will bring them back together and breathe life into them.

Great story. Incredible illustration. But what happened to those people? The story ends there and Ezekiel's on to something else. What happened to these dead people? Did they die again instantly? Did they go home and yell, "Surprise" (they would have been dead a while if they were nothing but a pile of bones)? Did they become some sort of zombie army ravaging the land until they were killed... again?

I understand that we will never know, and that thinking this way completely misses the point that God will take care of His destitute people and give them new life (or live more abundantly, John 10:10), but it's part of who I am, I just wish I knew what happened next...

I still wonder what they looked like. Did they look like when they died? The same age? I'm guessing they looked pretty good, God didn't put them together with scars and zits or anything. Did they know what was going on? So many questions...


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Great Adults

Tonight we had an adult meeting for our summer mission trip. Seven adults who are willing to give up an evening to spend it with me (and each other) talking about what we will be doing in a few weeks.

And after they left (although I knew it before), I started thinking about how great these guys and girls are. Something I've said for a long time is if you want to see what's important to someone, watch how they spend their time and their money. And tonight, I looked at that. We have seven people who are giving up their summer vacation, a week they have worked hard to earn, and possibly even a week's pay to spend that time with our students. Obviously, they care about our students and God's plan for them.

Thank you guys, for all you do!


Friday, June 19, 2009


There's a song by Leonard Cohen called "Hallelujah". It's a nice song. Slow, melodic, and obviously means a lot by the title.

I don't know what it is, but I have heard that song everywhere lately. Commercials. TV Shows. It seems to be in the background of everything. And all of them have something in common. They all seem to be at some point where someone is on the brink of despair and manages to come back. A time that's very emotional. Not necessarily "happy", but emotional.

And I started to think today as it was playing on my iPod, isn't it funny how the word that was used to be an ultimate praise to God is being sung by people whenever things are hard and wrong and they're just crying out for a change, for a helping hand from heaven. When at their lowest point, all they can do is actually praise God, singing "Hallelujah"...


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In our backyard we have a rosebush that is really, really blooming this year. A few weeks ago it was bright red with tons of flowers. It was very pretty, But, it also needed work.

Anyone who has grown their own produce or worked with flowers knows you need to do the occasional pruning. As beautiful as the rose bush was, there were maybe 40 flowers on it. But when I started pruning I noticed two things. One, some of the flowers were wilting or dying, but they were still taking nutrients from the bush. The other thing, there were buds waiting to come out. Over 90! (I counted). And those buds couldn't get sun because of the flowers over them. The bush needed to be pruned to allow growth.

Sometimes I think we need to do this to grow spiritually. We have areas that are dying or wilting, but from afar they look great or they just seem like a part of the plant. We even have healthy parts, but they are draining the overall plant. It really hurts to prune those parts, they seem vital and alive. Although they're alive, they're not vital and need to go so other parts can grow.

What in your life needs to be pruned? Look at what you spend time on, money on, effort on. What needs to be set aside? It may even be something that seems good, but is blocking / sucking the life out of something more important...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Sorry it's been a few days. I was at Ichthus last weekend and along with VBS set-up, I've been a little sleep deprived (I think I preached in the middle of that...)

Anyway, Ichthus was good. There were two things that really stood out to me. One was a little personal. Deleriou5? played what may be the last concert I will ever see of them (they are retiring as a band, it's only been 17 years). Even though I don't know every single song of theirs, it was good to see some people who are pioneers in the modern worship movement and hear them speak from their heart.

The other was discipleship. It's funny how God seems to be driving some points home in people around here. For the last almost year we've been talking at Drink Deep about reaching out with the gospel, but how that's not just saying, "Believe in Jesus, well, see you later." It takes work and discipleship. This weekend Justin Lookadoo said exactly the same thing. We as the church may be missing it. We seem to like the idea of people knowing there is a God. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Good, then you're in."

The problem is I can believe in someone, but not follow them. Not serve them. Not worship them. I had a teacher at college who was a great friend. I believe in him. I know him. But that didn't make me a fellow teacher. When it comes to Jesus, just knowing who He is or believing He exists isn't enough. As Justin reminded the crowd, even demons believe in Jesus. So you're about as strong a Christian as a demon, good job (that's found in James 2, it's a good section about serving). We need to move from personal head knowledge to a life of dedication and service and love to our God.

After all, as we've been talking about in Fire & Water, we're not called to make converts, to help people simply believe there is a Jesus.

Matthew 28:19-20 ~ Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (italics added)


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Compassion Offering

Every time we meet at Fire & Water we take an offering that goes directly to three students we sponsor through Compassion. We have been kind of wondering if we need to let one go. It hurts my head to think of doing that, but it's somewhat a reality...

Until last Sunday. We deposited the offering and there was $222.73!! One offering from Jr. and Sr. High school students! Good job guys! And thanks for supporting people who are less fortunate.

But on another note, if that's what a couple of teenagers can do, what can you do...?


Monday, June 08, 2009


Tonight I did a little gardening while Lorie worked on VBS stuff (we still need volunteers to help out!) Usually that's her job, she loves to do it, but I helped out and planted (and disturbed way too many worms, I think they're going to revolt against me).

And as I was doing it I was thinking about how many people there are who don't like plants )or animals for that matter). I'm not saying everyone should be a tree-hugger, but I know this. Almost everything I do, make, say, create, even the bad stuff, Lorie still can find something positive to say. Why? Because she loves me. And part of loving me is that she loves what I do (for the most part).

I have a hard time seeing someone who is a friend of David Crowder saying, "He's a nice guy but I hate all his music, it's trash." Why? Because if you care for someone you care for what they do. And I don't know, but I think that as Christians, we should like what our Best Friend made.

Just a thought...


Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Good And The Bad Of Tonight's Hockey Game

I just finished watching the Red Wings game (I'd mention the Penguins, but I don't think they showed up), and although that was bad in itself, that's not one of the two things I noticed in the match.

First the bad. I am tired of players losing their cool. Yes, sports are emotional, and yes, it stinks to lose, but you know what? You are paid millions of dollars to play a sport! Suck it up buttercup and keep your composure. Pittsburgh started to lose and suddenly the Red Wings are getting elbows to the head. Horrible. If the role models who are paid to play a sport (and play it right) can't display self-control, why are we surprised when the ten-year-olds who watch their role models act like sulking babies can't do it either?

But, there was good in the game. There is one thing I love about Detroit fans. They are loud! They sing all the time. Even after the music stops, you can hear 20,000 people still singing, loud and proud. I just wish somehow we could get people in churches to be like that. Something I personally don't get, when singing a prayer to God with other people we mouth the words and stay quiet. When at a sports event where your voice really doesn't matter, that's where we're the loudest.

Just a query and a hope...


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Poison Ivy

Friday was our annual Promotion Lock-In, we have fun at the church celebrating the last day of school and welcome our new freshmen (although most of you stayed home, what's up with that?)

Well, late Friday night I noticed a rash starting to form on my right ear. It was a little annoying, but whatever. The next morning it was on my forehead, then my other ear. It felt familiar but there was no way. No stinking way...

Yep, poison ivy. I managed to get poison ivy on Friday afternoon without ever going outside! I caught it in the youth room (to put minds at ease, yes it is possible because you get poison ivy from the oils of the plant. If someone brings the oil with them on some clothing or something and brushes against the youth room furniture, there's your poison ivy. However, it doesn't last forever, it will dry out and the youth room has been cleaned).

The part that frustrated me (and Lorie) is that I wasn't even outside. I didn't do anything to get poison ivy. Last time I had it, yeah, I was playing in the bush crawling through it in the middle of the night. This time, nothing.

But it made me think about our spiritual lives. We are told to avoid sin at all costs, but do you ever notice how things just seem to slip in? Accidentally seeing something on the internet, flipping channels, even visiting a friend who is doing something wrong and convinces you to join. It just seems to be everywhere. And sometimes we don't even know it.

Hebrews 12:1b ~ Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. (NLT)